Tuesday was a proud moment for Paterson, New Jersey’s police department as they welcomed in a new class of graduates to their ranks. This year’s class was also an historic one: it was Paterson’s first all-female class and the first time the police department had sworn in an officer who wears the hijab.
Mayor Andre Sayegh swore in officers Yeniry Medina, Gabriela Toribio and Serein Tamimi. Sayegh called the ceremony a “proud moment for the city of Paterson.”
“They’re trailblazers,” Sayegh said of the new officers. “They’ve broken the glass ceiling. Now young Patersonians, young people in our schools and our streets, can look up and say, ‘I want to be just like them.’ “
NorthJersey.com reported the three women originally came from a class of six students, two of whom were male. After six months of academic and physical training, only Officers Medina, Toribio, and Tamimi were left.
After being sworn in, Officer Tamimi, 22, officially became the first city police officer to wear a hijab. In an interview with NorthJersey.com, Tamimi said she hopes to inspire other Muslim women to achieve their goals and serve her community as a proud American Muslim police officer.
“I want to show them that we’re not what the media portrays us to be,” Tamimi said. “We’re friendly people, we love what we do and we are there for the community.”
As for Officers Medina and Toribio, their reasons for becoming law enforcement officers stem from their experiences in the community of Paterson. Both women have lived their entire lives in Paterson and Medina decided to become a police officer to help her community while Toribio was inspired by an encounter with a kind police officer she met as a child.
Officers Toribio, Medina, and Tamimi join Paterson’s 400-strong police force which includes 57 women officers.